PARKERSBURG - The West Virginia Republican Party Friday discounted a poll that said Secretary of State Natalie Tennant would be a formidable candidate against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2014.
The West Virginia Poll by R.L. Repass & Partners lacked "scientific merit," GOP Chairman Conrad Lucas said.
"The Repass poll itself is flawed by design," he said. "The demographics polled do not reflect West Virginia, there is no indication of geography and it is a blended result. The poll can't be any worse and has no scientific merit."
While Capito has announced she will run for the Senate next year, no Democrat with statewide recognition has yet to announce. Several Democrats have filed precandidacy papers for Senate, including David Wamsley of Wood County.
Lucas said West Virginians should have no confidence in the poll. Repass predicted President Obama would lose West Virginia by 14 points when the result was twice that and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, was down 24 points by Repass to incumbent Darrell McGraw, but won on election day, Lucas said.
"Once again, the poll leans overwhelmingly Democrat in its predictions," he said.
Larry Puccio, the chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party, responded to Lucas.
"The West Virginia Republican Party is using hypocritical tactics to attack a recently released public poll," Puccio said. "They are calling the results of the Repass Poll "off base" in reference to Rep. Capito's statistical dead heat with Sec. Tennant in a possible U.S.Senate race. At the same time, they are approvingly citing the same poll to discredit another statewide elected official.
"The Republican Party wants to have their cake and eat it too, but West Virginia voters will see right through it," he said.
The poll is conducted for the Charleston Daily Mail and was done Aug. 15-22. The telephone survey said 45 percent would vote for Capito to succeed Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who will retire at the end of the term.
Of the 400 respondents, 40 percent said they would vote for Tennant and 15 percent were unsure., a Democrat. Fifteen percent weren't sure.
The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
The numbers confirm there is overwhelming support for Tennant, Puccio said.
"There can be no doubt that Secretary Tennant will make an extremely formidable candidate for United States Senate should she decide to run," Puccio said.
According to the poll, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has suffered a drop in his approval rating.
"However, if we must react to the poll and pretend to entertain its assertions, Congresswoman Capito is performing incredibly well especially considering she has only campaigned in one-third of the state and her likely opponent has been on a statewide ballot 6 times," Lucas said. "In that same vein, the poll is incredibly damaging to Sen. Manchin showing how quickly that a record of siding with Obama on virtually every vote will destroy anyone's credibility in West Virginia."